There is something universal about soccer. Not only is it a game that is played on nearly every continent worldwide, it can also be played by people of all ages. Lee Docherty and a team of Cape Cod soccer players are now hoping to use soccer as a means of inspiration.
During February vacation, Docherty, founder and CEO of UK Soccer Development, is taking a group of local soccer players, all UKSD athletes, to the Caribbean island of Dominica where they will lead soccer clinics, volunteer at a school and help with an island building project.
Prior to the visit, the group organized a drive to collect soccer equipment, ultimately sending three containers full of cleats, uniforms, shin guards and other items to the islanders. Financial donations helped get the gear to Dominica, soon to be followed by the Cape’s soccer enthusiasts.
According to Docherty, a July visit to the island sparked the idea to bring student players back for clinics and volunteer work. Upon learning about Dominica’s struggles with poverty in the wake of its political independence from Britain, Docherty felt it was an ideal place to add a little soccer.
Cape Cod Academy student Katie Bailey is looking forward to experiencing life away from the somewhat sheltered confines of the Cape.
“Being on Cape Cod, you’re exposed to things but you’re sheltered,” Bailey said. “I’m looking forward to having my eyes opened by the experience.”
Max Spence of Barnstable High School is excited about meeting the people.
“I’m looking to build a relationship with the people there,” Spence said.
Working with the people – the clinics will be held for islanders ages 3 to 21 – is what Docherty’s charges are most excited about. Along with the soccer clinics, the group will be volunteering at an adolescent school for girls, working with a church group and, depending on need, digging a hole for a building project or helping create a bus stop.
They will also enjoy a bit of leisure time on the island in the form of hiking, visiting a local beach and doing some snorkeling.
BHS English teacher Meghan Fligg, who is also part of UKSD, is thrilled at the wealth of opportunities for the students going on the trip.
“I’m excited that they’re going to see a different kind of school system,” Fligg said. “I think they undervalue education in the US.”
BHS student Maggie Murphy likened their mission to the adage of teaching a man to fish.
“I think what’s really important is that we’re teaching a skill,” Murphy said. “Something they can use when we’re gone. It can bring something happier to them. Something tangible.”
Bailey added that soccer might be an important tool to help people put aside differences in order to work together.
“It can be a connecting block for us,” she said. “All you really need is something you can kick around with your feet. You can play it on dirt, cement, the beach. In the end it’s not complicated.”
Donations to benefit the Dominica outreach are still being accepted via the UKSD website at uksd.org.